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After Recent Death, NYC Spotlights Dangerous Building Facades


By Dan Hounsell Maintenance & Operations
Busy crowds of people walk across the intersection of Broadway and Spring Street in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan, NYC

The recent death of a prominent New York City architect caused by falling building debris shocked city officials and pedestrians alike. Now the resulting inspection of other city building has produced results that are likely to prompt tougher scrutiny for buildings owners and building maintenance practices.

After the death of Erica L. Tishman in December, New York City officials conducted surprise inspections that determined that 220 other buildings in the city had serious violations that their owners had failed to address, according to The New York Times.

The Class 1 facade violations — which can include cracks in a facade, missing bricks and loose masonry — were considered so dangerous that they posed a threat to the public and required the building owner to immediately put in place protections for pedestrians, says a spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Buildings said.

The inspection sweep came after the death this month of Tishman, who was walking on the southeast corner of Seventh Avenue and 49th Street when falling debris struck her in the head.

The debris had come from 729 Seventh Ave., a 17-story office building in Midtown with retail shops on the first floor, according to the Department of Buildings. In April, the owner of the building had been fined by the city because terra cotta above the 15th floor was coming apart and at risk of falling.

Dan Hounsell is editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions.

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